Help! My parents still won't see the good in my man after 3 years | Agony Aunt

Dear Fiona: I have been living with my boyfriend for three years.

By Fiona Caine
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 9:34 am

He is a good man and has taken on the role of father to my eight-year-old son, as if he were his own.

He supports us as I only work part-time, and I love him very much. However, nothing he does seems to get through to my parents, who think he isn’t good enough for me.

Ever since I have known him, they have tried to split us up. My mother in particular keeps asking me if I am happy with him, and says I would be happier with someone more my own age.

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A woman rowing with her parents. Alamy/PA.

She thinks this will mean he will eventually leave me, but the age difference is only five years, which is nothing – I have plenty of friends who have partners with bigger age gaps than this.

Things came to a head last month when he kindly replaced their back door for them (he’s a carpenter by trade).

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It took him most of the day to buy it and fix it, but when he’d finished, they neither thanked him, nor offered to pay for the door.

He wasn’t expecting them to pay for his time, but they should at the very least have paid for the parts. When he told me this, I was furious and had a blazing row with my mother on the phone.

Instead of offering to thank him, all I got was the same old stuff about him not being right for me and I completely lost it. I cut the call off and we haven’t spoken since.

I am still angry, but also worried and guilty that I have really messed things up. How do I resolve this and why can’t they see what I see in him?

K. F.

FIONA SAYS: COULD THEY KNOW SOMETHING YOU DON’T?

Your parents’ behaviour is certainly odd, given that you have been together for three years and are clearly happy.

And as for not thanking someone who takes the time and expense to do DIY for them, well, that’s just downright rude by anyone’s standards.

Unfortunately, there’s no clue in your letter as to what might be causing their behaviour. It’s tempting to put it down to them simply being worried about your welfare.

However, if that were really the case, they would have backed off by now, knowing how upset this was making you.

Alternatively, is it possible they know something that you don’t? You’ll only really know this if you can get them to be more specific about why they think he is wrong for you.

To do that, you’ll have to make contact and mend a few bridges. Call them and say you regret losing your temper, then attempt to calmly find out what is the issue.

Start by making it clear that, as far as your concerned, he has already proven he is a caring, loving person, and that you mean to stay with him. Then explain that you hope they can accept that.

If they won’t engage or can’t give you a valid reason for their feelings towards your boyfriend, you’ll have to decide just how much contact you want with them going forwards. And it will be their loss – however this pans out, you have nothing to feel guilty about.

DEAR FIONA: MY HUSBAND ISN’T PULLING HIS WEIGHT

In many ways, my husband is great but, when it comes to housework, he’s hopeless. It’s not that he doesn’t know what to do, he does occasionally vacuum a room or two and pitches in most evenings to cook.

However, I clean the rest of the flat every week. And in the evening after dinner, it’s always me that clears away and washes up – every time!

Laundry is another area where he thinks it just happens magically.

The laundry fairy arranges for clothes to be cleaned and they appear miraculously ironed and hanging in a wardrobe.

This probably reads a little like a housewife whinge, but the fact is, I work full-time too, and often get home after him in the evenings. It’s not trivial and it’s becoming a real issue. I have tried dropping the occasional comment like, ‘How about you taking a turn tonight’, but these are nearly always ignored.

I am resenting this more and more, and it’s only a question of time before it really affects our marriage.

I am also getting stressed and angry. What do I have to do to get through to him?

A. H.

FIONA SAYS: SPLIT CHORES EQUALLY

You’re right, this is no trivial matter, and it must stop. It’s not only unfair, but it’s also likely to affect your marriage adversely if it’s left to fester.

Subtle comments about housework clearly haven’t worked, so I suspect you will have to be more direct.

You could simply stop doing all the housework. It might get messy and a bit smelly but, hopefully, he would eventually notice that something was wrong and take steps to find out why.

If he’s particularly unobservant (or chooses not to notice) you could add to this ‘strike’ with an ultimatum. Say something along the lines of, ‘I am not doing any more housework until you start pulling your own weight’.

An alternative, somewhat less confrontational approach, would be to make a list of all the chores you do across a week and try to keep a corresponding tally of what he does.

Don’t let him see what you are doing, or he might up his contribution. Be scrupulously fair, you don’t want him to discredit the process.

Then, at the end of the week, show him what you’ve done and compare that with what he’s done. At this point, you can then explain just how badly this has been affecting you and ask him to help more.

You don’t have to share all tasks equally; you could barter chores. For example, one could cook and the other washes up afterwards.

Alternatively, you could do the ironing while he does some cleaning and dusting. You get the idea, and I really hope he will too because, if resentment builds up in your relationship, as it is clearly doing, it will cause real harm to the way you feel about him.